By QUAID NAJMI
Amid unending complaints of fleecing by private hospitals and medicos, a centre in north-Mumbai stands out like an oasis of hope for panicky COVID-19 patients.
Since the past couple of months, the Pawan Dham charitable centre in Kandivali west has become a refuge for those infected by corona, even as this middle-class region was recently declared a new ‘hotspot’ after Dharavi slum was on the steady route to ‘recovery’.
“At the Pawan Dham, patients are being charged Rs 1,000 per day for full COVID-19 treatment. This includes lodging-boarding, but they have to pay for certain variables like external tests, etc.,” North Mumbai Bharatiya Janata Party MP Gopal Shetty told IANS.
The brainchild behind the project, Shetty says it was the outcome of the desire of the Jain spiritual leader Namramuni Maharaj, who wanted it to serve the needy masses during this global pandemic.
Accordingly, Pawan Dham — originally a religious-cum-social services centre — was converted into a private dedicated COVID-19 treatment charitable facility, informed its member, Nitin Sunderji Shah, a businessman who oversaw the implementation of the project.
“There are 70-beds in this centre and so far we have already treated and discharged around 200 completely cured patients from here,” Shah said, adding that with the good reputation it has earned, there is already a long waiting list of patients seeking admission.
The centre is manned by a 70-strong army of corona warriors comprising medicos, nurses, support staffers, management functionaries and others who dedicatedly serve in three shifts.
“Till date, only one critical patient had to be shifted to a government facility. Otherwise, all those who approached the centre in time have happily gone home, fully recovered,” Shetty pointed out.
On how the centre manages the treatment with such nominal charges, both Shetty and Shah claim its the cheapest such facility in the country, possible “with the blessings of Namramuni Maharaj, who inspired many to willingly come forward with donations” to run the centre for the yeoman services it is rendering in these difficult times.
A Patient Nikhil J. Shah — who spent around Rs 8,000 for eight days at the centre and returned home fully recovered this week — said the treatment comprised an initial counselling by the doctors to “prepare” the patient for the entire COVID-19 course.
“Many get terrified when they test positive and believe they’re going to die. So, it’s imperative to calm them first to enable them to respond to the treatment well and also keep their equally jittery families free of worry,” explained Shah.
Incidentally, Health Minister Rajesh Tope On Thursday ordered CCTVs to be installed in the COVID-19 ICU wards in all hospitals following complaints of ‘overbilling’, besides a check on ambulance operators who fleece needy patients for ferrying them even short distances.
Now there are tentative plans to start similar low cost COVID-19 facilities through the community in other parts of the country, said Nitin Sunderji Shah.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)